FOX Sports analysts name several SEC players among list of nation's top impact freshmen
When it comes to making an impact immediately in college football, it takes far more than just pure talent, according to Urban Meyer.
During a recent offseason episode of the “Big Noon Kickoff,” Meyer and his fellow FOX Sports analysts shared their picks for the nation’s top impact true freshmen for the 2020 college football season.
Here is the list of the top five players the analysts came up with as a collective on the show:
- #1 Bryan Bressee, DL – Clemson
- #2 Bryce Young, QB – Alabama
- #3 Justin Flowe, LB – Oregon
- #4 Zach Evans, RB – TCU
- #5 Julian Fleming, WR – Ohio State
So what exactly allows a young player to come in and contribute immediately at the college level? According to Meyer, three attributes must be present: physical maturity, physical toughness and mental toughness.
Here is how the former Ohio State and Florida head coach broke down each attribute:
Meyer on physical maturity:
“Size, speed and strength. A lot of guys are gifted with that and guys just develop faster. There’s great stories from Mike Thomas to Joe Burrow to even Zeke Elliott that took a little bit of time to develop but physical maturity is obviously number one.”
Meyer on physical toughness:
“The ability to understand pain versus injury because what they are about to step into is far more difficult than high school, and quite honestly, far more painful. And I’m not just talking about the hits on the field, I’m talking about the training that they are about to go through.”
Meyer on mental toughness:
“That’s how you handle your teammates, how you handle media, fans and your coaches. You have to have thick skin, it’s going to be a very rugged, rugged environment for people, especially at big-time programs. That means teammates – you are going to go in and try to steal someone’s job. A lot of times, I’ve seen that they can’t handle that within a team.”
Bryce Young wasn’t the only SEC freshman mentioned by the crew as Joel Klatt listed Georgia freshman defensive back Kelee Ringo as his No. 4 overall impact freshman while Matt Leinart listed LSU tight end Arik Gilbert No. 2 nationally.
Of course, it’s worth noting that Leinart went to the same high school as Young. Leinart may be a bit biased in his evaluation of Young, who he ranks as the nation’s No. 1 impact freshman, but he made an interesting comparison when sharing his belief that Alabama’s freshman signal-caller could soon steal Mac Jones’ job in Tuscaloosa.
“I think what we will see is a similar situation that Clemson had a couple of years ago with Kelly Bryant and Trevor Lawrence,” Leinart said. “Kelly Bryant just got off a great season and he was the starting quarterback. Trevor Lawrence, No. 1 player in the country as just too good to keep off the field.”
Those similarities are something the former USC standout views when looking at Alabama’s current QB depth chart.
“I think we could see something similar, despite not having an offseason with Mac Jones and Bryce Young,” Leinart concluded.